What does it take for people to want to live and ultimately enjoy living and working on the Moon over an extended period of time? What are the prerequisites for high job satisfaction, resulting in consistently high job performance? Lunar operations will no doubt be facing some of the same issues that other small communities face. Of course, the special physical circumstances that basically seal this community off will only intensify certain problems like, for example, those resulting from feelings of isolation and confinement (Ryan and Kutschera 2007, p. 46).
The management of people in isolation poses a number of special problems for managers. Simulations of long duration space voyages by the Russians have
provides mixed results. Moscow’s Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) has conducted a number of isolation experiments since the late 1960s with reported instances of various psychological or interpersonal issues (see Table 29.2).
A summary of the most commonly reported psychological problems in these environments exemplifies how pervasive psychological disturbances are…. (Bishop 2010, p. 265)
Table 29.2 Reported Problems in Confined Environments (Bishop 2010, p. 266)
Among capabilities of the individuals involved would be the following requirements for employees working and living within a lunar environment. Individuals would be expected to be adaptable and have almost an extreme tolerance for both confinement and austere living arrangements. Table 29.2 indicates, the range of potential psychological issues that might be experienced by any given individual is extensive. It is evident that individuals entering into prolonged periods of isolation would need to be emotionally stable (Spell 2010). In addition, a certain level of family stability would also be mandatory for those anticipating long stays. The fact that things have not always gone perfectly within simulations based on Earth suggests that even more care will need to be used in the selection, training and support of individuals chosen to spend prolonged periods in space or lunar environments. The pressures of isolation possibly compounded by difficulties of adjustment leading to increased friction among the various crewmembers may be expected as business interests arrive on the Moon. All sorts of problems will be encountered, unless specific provisions are made to allow both time and places for crewmembers to be alone, to vent their frustrations and to find intelligent ways to cope with the stress of their environment. Terrestrial examples are common where confined environments have the potential to create individual stress, such as ships at sea.
although the relatively larger vessel size makes it possible to ‘escape’ to a certain degree. Also, the amount of people on a cruise ship allows for interaction with people beyond a small group and there is still a perceived degree of anonymity and privacy (Ryan and Kut – schera 2007, p. 46).
Communication will be critical to lunar employees. They will need to be able to interact with their family and friends frequently. The realities of long-distance communication should be considered or it will simply add to an individual’s stress rather than alleviate stress. Picking the right time zones for respective work shifts may always be somewhat arbitrary. However, it may make sense as a good management practice to align on-duty and off-duty shifts to promote communication with family back on earth. Doing so would make it much easier for lunar workers to interact with family and friends. The longer the work rotation on the moon the more important it would become to ensure that employees remain mentally grounded by being connected to those that they value. The moon may never be a “normal” environment but at some point people must operate as if living and working there is normal. Maintaining a semblance of normal will require good communication capabilities with those back on earth as well as additional features such as health care, intelligent living arrangements, activities and features to build “community,” and a range of decisions generally not the province of your average manager. Of course, being a manager on the Moon may itself require time for individuals to become comfortable, if it can ever be truly comfortable. It is certain that management on the Moon will not start out like managing in another country. Some areas of daily concern for lunar managers would only occur in emergencies for expatriate managers around the world. Fortunately, a body of research building upon the problems associated with isolation and working within stressful environments is developing.